- Define Credible Options
- Assess and Select Preferred Option
- Approve Strategy
- Implement Strategy
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Lower Activity Waste
Last Updated: 14 June 2013
Current Stage of Strategy Development
We are implementing the revised UK Low Level Waste strategy 2010.
Lower Activity Waste (LAW) arises from a number of activities undertaken at NDA sites including:
- fuel fabrication and uranium enrichment
- nuclear power generation
- spent fuel reprocessing
- nuclear energy research and development and
Many of these processes also result in liquid and gaseous effluents that need to be managed. As a result the LAW Topic strategy comprises two strands:
Solid Low Level Waste
To provide capability and capacity for managing solid low level radioactive waste to support our decommissioning and operations and make facilities available to other low level waste producers.
Liquid and Gaseous Discharges
To reduce the environmental impact of radioactive liquid and gaseous discharges in accordance with the:
The waste hierarchy is an important element of these strategies. It forms a framework in which waste producers work. In practice, waste management decisions will need to be underpinned by appropriate decision-making mechanisms that consider a broad range of criteria. In turn this will provide appropriate protection for people and the environment and obtain value for money.
Scope and Boundaries
The scope of the strategy for the management of solid LLW includes the segregation, quantification, characterisation, handling, treatment, packaging, transport and disposal of solid LLW. This comprises a full life-cycle approach to waste management, including the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of any solid LLW management facilities. This topic therefore includes the operation of the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) and the strategic partnership between LLW Repository Ltd and NDA, and the use of supply chain facilities for the treatment and disposal of radioactive wastes.
As noted in the UK solid LLW Policy (March 2007), the NDA is required to make LLW management and disposal facilities available to other nuclear and non-nuclear industry producers of radioactive waste under appropriate commercial agreements.
For liquid and gaseous discharges the strategy covers the characterisation, treatment, sentencing and disposal of these wastes. Again a full life-cycle approach is within scope of this topic strategy. Included in this topic strand, therefore, are: liquid waste treatment processes; gaseous waste treatment processes, and associated secondary waste management processes, operated by facility managers within the nuclear sector and by the wider supply chain where appropriate.
Radioactive waste that has been demonstrated to be exempt from Radioactive Substances regulation is not included in the scope of this topic, because in practice such materials are managed as non-radioactive and hazardous wastes.
The Solid LLW strategy interfaces with a number of other themes and topics including:
- Higher Activity Waste strategy and Non-Radioactive and hazardous waste strategy are related because of the potential for transfer between categories as a result of improved characterisation and treatment
- Revenue optimisation strategy is related because of the operation of the LLW Repository
- Decommissioning strategy and Non NDA Liability Management strategy and Site end state strategy and Land quality management strategy are related because this will influence the quantity and timing of LLW to be managed
The Liquid and gaseous discharges strategy interfaces with a number of other themes and topics including:
- Decommissioning strategy is related because this can influence the quantity and timing of liquid and gaseous wastes to be managed
- Site End State strategy is related because of delivering the desired end state
- Land Quality Management strategy is related because of quantities of waste generated
- Asset management strategy is related due to maintaining appropriate levels of containment
- Spent Fuels strategies
There are important external interfaces with for this topic strategy:
Credible options and corresponding sub-options for the management of Solid LLW are as follows:
1. Manage LLW using existing facilities
2. Construct new facilities in the UK for treatment and disposal of LLW
2.1 Local facilities
2.2 Regional facilities
2.3 National facilities
3. Use international facilities for treatment and disposal of LLW
Our strategy for solid LLW is set out in details in the UK Nuclear Industry LLW Strategy. The preferred option is a combination of the above, as demonstrated in the LLW Strategy Strategic Environmental Assessment.
Development of a liquid and gaseous discharges topic strategy has been strongly guided by the requirement to implement the UK Radioactive Discharges Strategy. However, for completeness we have considered this against a number of alternative options:
- Adopt and zero discharges strategy
- Do nothing / Dilute and disperse (i.e. increase discharges)
- Implement the UK Radioactive Discharges Strategy
The proposed strategy is to implement the UK Radioactive Discharges Strategy.
The UK Nuclear Industry LLW Strategy was published in August 2010 and is being implemented, both by individual waste producers and through an NDA National Programme. The guiding principle in the strategy is to apply the waste hierarchy to provide continued capability and capacity for LLW management. This underpins optimised use of the Low Level Waste Repository (LLWR) reflecting its role as a critical UK asset, with a view to avoiding the need to construct a successor facility.
The current topic strategy for liquid and gaseous discharges encourages the operators of NDA sites to manage the materials as part of their integrated waste planning and with the framework of the UK Strategy for Radioactive Discharges, taking full cognisance of good practice, with the aim of achieving the best overall outcome for people, the environment and the taxpayer.
Stakeholder Engagement on Lower Activity Waste
Over the last three years extensive engagement has been undertaken with stakeholders on the development of the UK Nuclear Industry LLW Strategy. This included regular meetings of a stakeholder forum called the LLW Strategy Group. This group has now changed it's name to the LLW Programme Delivery Group to reflect the change from strategy development to delivery. The strategy was also discussed at a wide range of other forums, including local government forums, supply chain events and conferences.
The strategy also underwent an extensive public consultation period resulting in many changes to the strategy.
And a digest of the consultation responses can be found here:
UK Strategy for the Management of Solid Low Level Radioactive Waste from the Nuclear Industry Post Consultation Response August 2010 (2Mb)
Post consultation response
Engagement on the liquid and gaseous discharges strand has included dialogue with the regulator community and Government. The topic has also been covered at the UK LLW Strategy Group noting the need for integrated approaches to the management of waste. There was significant stakeholder engagement and a public consultation for the development of the UK Discharge Strategy.